Photo Credit: ABC
For those of you who watch ABC’s “Bachelor in Paradise”, you probably breathed a sigh of relief when the Dean-Kristina-Danielle love triangle finally came to an end on last night’s episode. Girls in America were cringing week after week watching Kristina fall harder and harder for Dean, only for her to have her heart broken in the end. It was extra difficult for some of us to watch because we’ve been there ourselves: willing to give it all for the guy only for him to pump the breaks because he’s scared to take the leap. Dean is the heartthrob that just wasn’t ready for commitment. He expressed over and over again on the show that he knew that Kristina was the better girl for him in the long run, but that he just wasn’t at the “level” that she was at yet. The level he was referring to is when you want to be with someone so much that you’re willing to forgo the chance or opportunity to be with anyone else. Kristina clearly didn’t want to be with anyone else but Dean; and while Dean wanted to be with Kristina, he was not willing to completely give up his freedom to date other women in order to be with her.
The most frustrating part isn’t that Dean wasn’t reciprocating the same actions as Kristina, but that instead of being honest with her from the get go, he lead her on. It’s for that reason that you can’t blame Kristina for getting her heart broken. She was receiving mixed signals from Dean, typical hot and cold behavior from a non-committal, and despite her getting warning signs that he just wasn’t all in it, she kept holding onto hope that he would get there. Yet, at the end of the day she had different expectations going into the relationship than Dean, and it was those expectations that resulted in her heartbreak.
So, how much do our expectations play into our getting our hearts broken? Well, we get hurt when our expectations don’t match up with the reality of the situation. But, the game-changing factor that determines if our hurt could have been avoided, is whether our expectations were based on assumptions or facts.
Expectations Based on Assumptions
We all have basic expectations that are built on assumptions which are valid and vital for our well-being. Such as, having the expectation that someone will treat us with respect and honesty. Not only is this type of expectation okay to have; in fact, it is necessary in order to cultivate a healthy relationship. However, the area where we run into problems is when we have expectations that may be unique to our perspective and we assume that the other person holds those same expectations.
For example, on the “Friends” episode where Ross and Rachel decided to go on the infamous break, they each had their own expectations on what a break was. Ross ended up sleeping with another woman during their break and when Rachel found out, she was furious. Rachel clearly had the expectation that their time apart would not include sleeping with other people; while for Ross, being on the break signified that they were no longer together and were free to do as they wished. Each of them ended up hurt and their diverging opinions on this matter ultimately eliminated any possibility of reconciliation of their relationship. We all remember Ross stubbornly repeating the words: “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”
Could this have been avoided? Possibly. Holding expectations that are based on assumptions can evidently be threatening to a relationship if the other person does not have the same expectations. The way we can avoid getting hurt in this way is by having open communication regarding our expectations. If Rachel had clarified with Ross what she defined as a “break”, then Ross would have known Rachel‘s expectations and could have made a more informed choice.
Expectations Based on Facts
At times even when we try to maintain open communication with our partners, we just can’t escape heartbreak. This is when our expectations that are based on facts do not align quite so well with reality. An example is when we have a conversation with our partner where we establish exclusivity, and it is understood that neither would date other people, but we find out that our partner hasn’t been faithful. This hurt is that much more excruciating. The expectation here was based on truth and facts, it was based on actual words spoken from our partner. Sadly, the hurt that we would feel from this situation is unavoidable. Unless we are to assume that everyone is a liar, which is not a good route to go and thankfully is not true, then really, we had a valid expectation based on what our partner had promised. How were we to know that they were not being honest with us when it was discussed?
The important lesson to take away from these kinds of situations is to remember to not only share our values and expectations, but to also pay attention to behaviors: words are meaningless if not followed through with actions. On “Bachelor in Paradise”, Dean expressed to Kristina on several occasions that his feelings for her were stronger than they were for Danielle. But after these conversations, he contradicted his words with his behavior. He kept distancing himself from Kristina, spent more time with Danielle, and flirted with Danielle in front of Kristina. There will be guys that say exactly what we want to hear, but have no intention of following through. The difficulty is assessing whether the guy is honest in his communication with us or just agreeing with us to suit his own purpose.
Moral of the Story
Our expectations have a hand in how hurt we will feel after each relationship. Expectations that are not met inevitably cause disappointment. Does this mean that we should have no expectations in order to avoid a broken heart? No. We need standards, we need to value ourselves, and hold certain expectations such as respect and honesty. But, if a guy fails to meet these valid and reasonable expectations, we may get hurt and that’s okay. Kristina left paradise with a broken heart, but it’s okay because heartbreaks and mistakes teach us lessons which help us grow in strength and wisdom. Dean may not have been ready to commit to Kristina, but one day she will meet a guy who will be. We all will.